February 20, 1999
Petitioner's name and address
Dear (Insert Petitioner name here):
You recently signed a petition involving a forest along the Mendocino coast in California. I am writing to provide you with more information about this forest property, and to clarify some of the factual errors contained in the petition. For more detailed information, please visit our web site at http://www.mendocinoredwoodco.com. If you don't have access to the Internet but would like more information, please call our office at 707-485-8731 and we would be happy to send you a complete printout.
Mendocino Redwood Company
My name is Sandy Dean, I am the president of Mendocino Redwood Co., LLC, (MRC) a newly formed company operating 230,000 acres of forest property in Mendocino County, California.
When we established this company, we knew we had a significant challenge ahead of us. The forest was not in good shape after decades of logging by various forest companies. Before us, the property was owned by Louisiana Pacific. The Fisher family in San Francisco and other private investors provided funding for establishing Mendocino Redwood Company. MRC, however, has no legal, formal, or any other kind of business relationship with Gap Inc.
We started MRC with a purpose. We want to demonstrate that it is possible to manage forestland with a high standard of environmental stewardship and at the same time to operate as a successful business. We are convinced that we can accomplish this goal.
Each day, MRC makes incremental progress which demonstrates that we are more than just a typical forest management company. Since we started, just seven months ago, we have accomplished a lot toward this end, including:
- Pursuing Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accredited certification. This means independent, third parties will evaluate our practices using FSC guidelines to certify that MRC's practices leave forest ecosystems healthy and intact. There are many steps left before MRC is a certified forest, however, we have begun this process.
- Significantly lowering the harvest rate on our property;
- Hiring a Director of Stewardship, a new position that will insure that our long term plans and our daily actions in the forest are consistent with our purpose and promises;
- Beginning collaborations on several important stream restoration projects including what we hope might be a model project with Trout Unlimited;
- Conducting numerous tours for friends and critics alike; and
- Relentlessly explaining our goals and objectives.
The petition you signed makes many allegations, covers several issues, and specifically mentions four Timber Harvest Plans (one of which is mistakenly tied to us but covers property owned by another company, Redwood Empire). Detailed responses to each allegation in the petition are available on our web site (www.mendocinoredwoodco.com, in the letters section) or by calling our office (707-485-8731).
Generally, concerns fall into five categories: old growth, herbicide use, clearcutting, liquidation logging, and winter logging. I want to briefly address each of these concerns
Old growth: MRC has been accused of logging "ancient" forests and clearcutting "old growth." Foresters, ecologists and members of the environmental community have yet to agree on a single accepted definition of "old growth". In the meantime, MRC has developed a temporary policy on old growth harvesting, which includes a careful definition of "old growth." Our definition is intended to preserve the genetic and ecological integrity of "old growth" trees. To MRC, an old growth redwood is 250 years old or older and 48" in diameter. To protect those attributes of our forest that can serve as valuable old growth habitat for wildlife, MRC will not harvest any previously un-entered forests and will not harvest in areas where there are 30 or more "old growth" trees on five contiguous acres. We are working to determine if we can improve this policy.
Herbicides: When we have to, we use the herbicide Garlon to prevent the vigorous tanoak from out-competing our planted redwood and douglas fir seedlings. These seedlings need to be protected to restore the conifer forest to Mendocino County for the future. Though the active ingredient of Garlon, triclopyr, is registered by the Environmental Protection Agency and can be used safely, MRC is looking into alternatives to Garlon and will set aside acreage on which to test alternatives this year. In the meantime, MRC applies Garlon by hand on a plant-by-plant basis to ensure animal and human safety. We also maintain strict buffer areas to prevent run off of this material into local streams.
Clear cutting: MRC engaged in a limited amount of clear cutting in 1998, generally on acres that at one time were beautiful redwood and douglas fir forests but have since been invaded by the vigorous tanoak tree. Tanoak has become dominant in some areas of our property because of the short sighted practices of previous property owners combined with a historical lack of reforestation efforts. MRC is committed to restoring what once was, and will again be, redwood and douglas fir forests through careful harvesting and reforestation efforts. In addition, MRC has adopted a policy of variable retention in lieu of traditional clearcutting for all new 1999 plans. We made this decision after consulting with a number of the leading independent experts in environmentally sensitive forestry.
Liquidation Logging: MRC reduced the harvest on this property in 1998 to a point where the harvest is conservatively estimated to equal 60% of the rate of growth of the forest. This means that each year there will be more and bigger trees in the forest. Harvesting such a conservative percentage of a forest's growth is unusual in the timber business. We felt this was an appropriate first step for us given our long-term goals to improve the lands.
Winter logging: MRC has received a number of inquiries about its winter harvesting plans. Some individuals have assumed that because certain Timber Harvest Plans (THPs) were approved for winter operations, that MRC will automatically conduct winter operations. Here's what is actually happening. In general, MRC is minimizing winter operations because of risk of sediment movement and road damage that could threaten delicate stream and river ecology. Activities that do not pose environmental threats (falling, or hauling on rocked roads during dry periods) may be conducted when conditions are appropriate.
Thank You For Your Interest
Thank you for reading through this important information. We are also sending this information in even more detail to the California Department of Forestry, Timber Harvest Plan Review Team Agencies, and National Marine Fisheries Service.
We recognize and respect the rights of every citizen to petition. At the same time, we feel a powerful obligation to make certain that informed petitioners have all the facts they feel they need.
Richard A. Wilson
Director of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
Dr. William Hogarth
National Marine Fisheries Service
Santa Rosa, CA 95404